Maritime summit presents a unified future vison

Opportunities and challenges for the maritime sector were outlined at a major event hosted by Connected Places Catapult in Liverpool.

Over 150 delegates gathered at the Merseyside Maritime Museum for the Maritime Growth Summit 2023.

We asked several speakers and exhibitors from the event for their thoughts on what the future holds for the maritime sector. Here is what they told us:

The future for the maritime sector is one of tremendous opportunity. There’s no shying away from the fact we have a journey to go on, but we have achieved great things in the UK. We are worldrespected and in a globally leading position when it comes to decarbonising, digital skills and professional services. We should be proud of where we are. We should build on this and keep that momentum going. I implore everyone to keep behind the roadmap and keep on delivering.”
Mark Wray, Ecosystem Director for Maritime & Ports, Connected Places Catapult
Mark Wray, Ecosystem Director for Maritime & Ports, Connected Places Catapult

Dr Jo North, Technology & Transformation Director, Port of Tyne: “I think the future of the maritime sector looks really promising. There’s a lot to do, but we’re absolutely on the right track. We just need to keep moving forward; working together and making the difference.” 

Derek van Dyk, Head of UK, Cargo Stream: “There’s huge expectations from Government, customers and end users around sustainability, and cost; and the maritime industry is going through a huge change. This is just the start of it. I expect to see huge innovation coming and some real interesting things happening.” 

Dr Andy Wells, Climate Specialist, Geospatial Insight: “Decarbonisation and climate change are certainly major drivers of change. We know something is going to happen, but how will it affect us, how badly and where? And who do we need to engage with to understand the challenge; to quantify the impact, and what are the options to mitigate that impact, not just for businesses, but for wider society. This is a we problem, not just a me or an I problem.” 

Ruth Wood, Chief Executive, Mersey Maritime: “I think the future of maritime is really bright. We’re on the cusp of something quite unique and different for the sector. Maritime really needs to be revolutionised from what has been quite a traditional sector. From my perspective, it’s a really exciting time to be involved in the maritime sector.” 

Connor Lyons, Innovation Lead, Associated British Ports: “The future for maritime is connected, digital and probably more autonomous, while recognising that people are so important for the industry and need to be looked after as well. Maritime is also set to become cleaner and greener too, with technology helping to solve several challenges.” 

Mark Robinson, Managing Director, Chrome Angel Solutions: “The future is exciting. There are huge needs and huge opportunities, and I believe in technology and that we can make things better with it. So to see the range of opportunities, and the need and the appetite for change is really exciting.” 

Highlights from the summit

During the Maritime Growth Summit, delegates heard from around a dozen speakers representing maritime clients, SMEs and the Catapult.

In one session focused on opportunities and challenges facing SMEs in the UK maritime sector, Andy Wynn, Director of PurEmissions, urged the sector to get past the marketing hype of decarbonisation, and “focus on the science”. He pointed out the shipping industry emits “a whole bunch of things more powerful than CO2, such as black particulates”. There is a need to focus on real solutions that deliver real solutions right now, he added.

Another session heard from Mersey Maritime Chief Executive, Ruth Wood who said leadership is not just about one individual, it’s about developing a team of leaders that are all working towards the same goal.

“We can bring the experts together to make the magic happen. Everyone in the sector has a role to encourage innovation and collaboration. I encourage all of you to share ideas, collaborate and inspire your peers to grow your maritime network. Together we are stronger.”

Delegates also heard from Lt Chris Keeble of Royal Navy Mobile Engagement team, who spoke about achieving more engagement domestically and how delegates can use their resources for their own events.

Connected Places Catapult’s Head of Global Innovation, Alison Young gave a sneak peak of our ‘UK Maritime Innovation Ecosystem Overview‘. It outlines what the UK’s maritime innovation ecosystem looks like and where future investment opportunities lie.

As part of a ‘State of innovation in maritime’ session, delegates heard from Jo North of the Port of Tyne and Nigel Quinn of Bibby Marine who both spoke about skills challenges, and the need for more role models to attract young people into the sector.

Jo gave an update on the Port of Tyne’s efforts to decarbonise and embrace innovation. The port is home to the 2050 maritime innovation hub, aims to be an all-electric port by 2040 and welcomes innovators to test automation and robotics with its 5G network.

Nigel Quinn said harnessing AI and additional digital tools will help operators in the maritime sector to optimise costs, and improve operations at sea and safety.

Find out more about how the Catapult works with the maritime and ports sector

Watch a highlights video of the Maritime Growth Summit.